Jerry Wtikovsy and Baby Jessica

As part of my book, The Grandest Love: Inspiring the Grandparent-Grandchild Connection, I collected 30 letters from grandchildren of all ages and backgrounds, asking them to share what they had learned from a grandparent. I was fortunate to include my own grandchildren in the process. Here’s a letter from my granddauther Kathryn (always Katie to me), now 28.

I remember it like it was yesterday—the times I spent in downtown Chicago in my grandparents’ old apartment. I remember family dinners, I remember playing dominos in the living room; I remember my grandparents cooking. I remember “swimming” in my grandmother’s “messy room.” However of all the memories, what I remember the most is playing catch with my grandpa in his back room. It felt like hours were spent back there with a package of tennis balls, and my grandpa repeating one line over and over (and over): “Katie, always keep your eye on the ball!”

I enjoyed playing catch and as I grew older I played softball, soccer and basketball-and through the years my grandpa would continue telling me to keep my eye on the ball. No matter what sport it is you have to be determined and stay focused.

Well, I soon learned that keeping your eye on the ball did not only have to be about a tennis or soccer ball, but was a way of thinking about life and keeping focused on anything you wanted. If you want something enough, you need to work hard and keep track of the objective no matter what it is.

I know that what I’ve learned from my grandparents will help me through the rest of my life. I’ve come to believe that grandparents are truly teachers to their grandchildren-that it is only the parents’ responsibility-because of the luck of knowing because the loving and amazing grandparents I have been blessed with.

Overall I could not be more grateful to have a family that is open with feelings and communicates well with each other. I also feel fortunate to have grown up in a well-rounded environment that has always involved “playing” together on vacations and participating in outdoor activities, as well as observing religious holidays and serious family discussions…all built upon the foundations created by my grandparents

As great as all the memories are, when asked to put in writing what I have learned from my grandparents, I wanted to be sure to do it justice by expressing the impact of their unconditional love. This love they have given me and the rest of our family a foundation to live a happy, healthy life…no matter what our road or how curvy it may be, along the way.

What I carry with me the most from my grandparents is fairly simple: to be a good person and a good family member, and to play an active role in every community I am a part of.

Love, KATHRYN (written at 25)

Go ahead, ask your grandchildren to write their letters to you!